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Cambodia Bars Opposition Leader From Running in Election

Cambodian opposition leader and France-based exile Sam Rainsy, attends political discussions, San Juan, Philippines, Sept. 10, 2012.
Cambodia’s National Election Committee has formally reaffirmed that exiled opposition leader Sam Rainsy is ineligible to run for office or vote in the country's upcoming elections.

NEC Secretary-General Tep Nitha told reporters Friday that the new opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party would be allowed to contest the parliamentary elections. But he said Rainsy would not be eligible because his name has been deleted from the national voter registry.

“Political compromise is different from technicality of voter registration, because we are under a different law," said Tep. "Political compromise is only for political issues.”

Rainsy faces a 12-year prison sentence if he returns to Cambodia, and the law does not allow persons convicted of a crime to participate in elections. He and his supporters have said the charges against him are politically motivated.

Friday's announcement was a setback to the opposition, which had hoped the political activist would be allowed to return to lead a coalition against the ruling party.

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